A friend is always good to have, but a lover’s kiss is better than angels raining down on me.
In my office, I have two swivel chairs placed next to each other for the purpose of allowing couples to turn toward each other, but it also gives them the opportunity to turn away from each other. Inevitably most sit either directly facing me or swivel away from each other, when the discussions address their sexual issues. When I inquire about the last time they shared a passionate kiss, it’s usually not remembered or it’s been a very long time.
During courting, potential partners will begin the mating ritual of lip biting and lip licking (unconscious process), in hopes of getting to lock lips. I had the delight of trekking chimpanzees in a trip to Tanzania a few years ago and I’ll attest to these behaviors in primates, our common ancestors. The males will wildly be licking their lips and biting when a female in estrous is nearby. These displays are seen in courtship in humans as well in hopes of leading to the first kiss. When kissing finally takes place, a rich cascade of neurochemical events takes place. As we all know, this is a very powerful biological experience that keeps us going back for more.
Kissing causes various chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins, testosterone, and phenylethylamine, to be released. These hormones and neurotransmittors promote pair bonding, strong feelings of love and romance to arise, reductions in cortisol (stress hormone), heightened attention toward our lover as well as obsessive perseveration of them. While all the lip smacking and licking is going on, our sexual organs and genitalia are getting primed and ready for the possibility of sex.. Helen Fisher, Rutgers Sex Research, suggests the reason men have a more “wet’ kiss is to pass testosterone via saliva to the female to promote her desire to have sex. So gals, now you know, next time that wet kiss is making it’s way on your mouth, it’s because biology has a purpose.
This bountiful pharmacy may be accessed just through kissing, yet most couples begin to turn away from their partner, no longer wanting to kiss. Of course, the problems that lead to the lack of kissing in a relationship is complex, yet with the promotion of attuning to, attending to, and paying attention to the finer essentials necessary in bonding, we can access this chemistry in the hope of letting nature help facilitate the process of reconnecting. Also, these chemicals promote well-being and greater health.
Here’s the kissing homework assignment I suggest this mindfulness meditation practice. Sit facing your partner, take a few deep breaths and relax into the gaze of each other’s eyes (which by the way stimulates oxytocin). Set a positive intention with one another for the benefit of the relationship. Place your attention on your heart area, bringing a quality of kindness toward yourself and then send that loving feeling through your heart to theirs. Stay with this for a few minutes. Setting an alarm is a good idea. Once the alarm chimes, lean toward one another and kiss. The kiss at this point can be very simple. Then return to your meditation on sending a loving feeling toward them. Repeat this cycle about five times. Doing this daily either at the beginning or ending your day in this way, will promote love, kindness, friendliness and even sexual desire. When you complete the cycles, take a moment to give each other a warm embrace (again, promoting oxytocin). Like all mindfulness exercises, they are a practice and remember it’s a practice. Not for perfection, but for acceptance of how life shows up. So practice showing up and turning the proverbial swivel chair back toward your partner, embracing them with the delight of a kiss (or kisses).
Sherri Aikin is a Fellow of Integrative Medicine, Nurse Practitioner, Sex Counselor, Mindfulness Facilitator, and Life Coach.
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